Every authentic religious community that is formed is given a particular gift or animating spirit from the Holy Spirit which characterizes the specific nature of the community. As many religious communities experience, it is not always easy to encompass the entirety of this animating characteristic with words. This past summer, at the SOLT General Chapter, we revisited the verbal expression of our charism and concluded with the following: Disciples of Jesus through Mary living in Marian-Trinitarian communion serving on ecclesial family teams in areas of deepest apostolic need.
The charism statement may seem rather complex, but essentially, it underlines three important aspects of SOLT: 1. The Marian-Trinitarian spirituality; 2. The team aspect of ministry; and 3. The missionary dimension. While it would be difficult in an introductory article to elaborate in depth on all three elements, I would like to address the most mysterious, namely, the Marian-Trinitarian dimension of the SOLT charism.
Written six years after the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity was founded, the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Nov.21, 1964), made explicit reference to our Blessed Mother in her relationships with the persons of the Trinity: she is the beloved daughter of the Father, the mother of the Son, and the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit. (LG 53) Furthermore, Lumen Gentium reaffirmed that Mary “shines forth to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues.” (LG 65) In SOLT, one of our primary objectives and missions is to strive to imitate and manifest this Trinitarian life of Mary.
Each of us is called to live as a son or daughter of the Father. Mary saw her life from the perspective of the Father’s eternal plan for her life and from the perspective of a loving Father in whom she could trust and rely upon for guidance. In return, Mary understood clearly that her life was to manifest her Father’s goodness. Every child represents their parents by their behavior and Mary’s life is a clear reflection of the goodness of her heavenly Father. Striving to imitate Mary’s example, we too should recall that God the Father has a special plan for our lives and we can trust that He will lead and guide us in that plan. Like Mary, our words and actions should manifest that we too are the beloved children of God!
When considering Mary as the mother of the Son, it may at first glance appear to be something impossible to imitate since being a mother to a particular person is a unique role. However, when we consider the words of Jesus, “whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt 12:50), it is a reminder to us that Mary is the mother of Jesus not only by blood, but also by virtue of imitating Him perfectly in following the will of God. Mary is the perfect disciple of Jesus and she provides for us an exemplar. Mary journeyed with her divine Son throughout His life, all the way to the foot of the Cross, and conformed herself to the image of her Son. As Jesus is the eternal Son of the Father, and the perfect image of the Father, Mary’s conformity to Christ renders her too as an image of the Father and manifests her as the beloved daughter of the Father. We too are called to be conformed to Christ so that by resembling Jesus, we manifest that we are the adopted children of our Father in heaven.
The task of being totally conformed to Christ in order too manifest ourselves as children of the Father, is something which requires supernatural assistance. Mary is referred to as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” because of the intimacy of her relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit overshadows Mary and makes Jesus Christ present within her. In an obvious way, the Annunciation communicates this truth, but even throughout the rest of Mary’s life, the Holy Spirit continued to animate and strengthen her in her pilgrimage of faith so that she would be conformed to Christ in her thoughts, words and actions. It is the Holy Spirit, acting with Mary’s continual fiat, that enables her to engender Christ, be conformed to Him, and manifest that she is the beloved daughter of the Father. As disciples of Jesus through Mary, we are called to live in this intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit so that Christ may be engendered within us, and that we would be manifested as the adopted children of God the Father through our words and actions.
Within the entire SOLT family and on each of our teams at our various missions, we are called to manifest this Trinitarian life of our Blessed Mother in our relationships with one another and the people we serve. We pray that through our Blessed Mother’s intercession, we would be given the strength to follow the path of discipleship that she lived. May each of our lives manifest that we are the beloved sons and daughters of the Father, model disciples of Jesus Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit.
God bless you,
Fr. Peter Marsalek, SOLT
General Priest Servant
Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity